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Jaguar Land Rover to open research centre

Research base: About 1000 researchers and engineers will be employed at the National Automotive Innovation Campus when it opens in 2016.

JLR pours $86 million into research and development centre at UK university

Jaguar logo26 Sep 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

JAGUAR Land Rover is investing 50 million ($A86 million) in a new British research and development facility that will focus on new technologies for a “low-carbon future”.

Construction will start on the National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC) at Warwick University in Coventry in September next year with the opening scheduled for 2016.

The state-of-the-art centre will allow academics and researchers from Warwick and other institutions to collaborate with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) engineers in developing future generations of technology.

Jaguar says the centre will house advanced powertrain and design facilities, engineering workshops and labs, and rapid prototyping or 3D printing technologies.

JLR’s 50 million investment makes it the lead partner in the facility, with Indian parent company Tata Motors European Technical Centre and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) also chipping in to the overall cost of 100 million.

The UK government’s Higher Education Funding Council England is also a major partner in the project.

Jaguar Land Rover research and technology director Dr Wolfgang Epple will head development of the facility that adds to the British-based car-maker’s existing product development centres in Gaydon and Whitely.

Dr Epple said the centre would have a positive impact on the UK economy and provide a boost to the country’s reputation as an automotive hub.

“Investing in collaboration, innovation, research and education is vital if we want to be on a par with our international competitors,” he said. “Our future sales success, the success of our global business – and the UK economy – lies in the engineering and innovation that will take place in NAIC.

“Creating a new national focus for automotive research and consolidating Jaguar Land Rover’s growing research and advanced engineering operations in one centre offers us huge potential.

“With a critical mass of research capability we will put the UK at the very centre of the global automotive industry – with the NAIC at its hub.”

About 1000 researchers and engineers will work at the NAIC, with the BBC reporting that about 500 existing university and JLR staff will make the centre their new home, while 500 new employees will be hired by the time the facility opens.

About 200 researchers and engineers from the British car-maker are already based at WMG, working with researchers on a number of projects.

Jaguar Land Rover head of research Antony Harper did not comment on specific research projects that would be undertaken at NAIC, but suggested areas of focus would include green technology and in-car connectivity.

“We will announce the details of the specific research projects on which our NAIC research team will collaborate in due course, but these will be long-term, multi-disciplinary challenges – such as electrification, smart & connected cars and Human Machine Interface – which will help us create some key new technologies that will deliver a low-carbon future.”

The company previously said it would invest millions of dollars in developing greener powertrains and in 2011 announced plans to open a new engine plant near Wolverhampton in the UK that would produce a family of low-emissions four cylinder engines.

These eco-friendly powertrains look likely to power the recently announced Jaguar C-X17 SUV and a new sub-XF small sedan range that were announced at the Frankfurt show earlier this month.

Mr Harper said the new 30,000 square-metre facility would play a huge role in the future product development of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.

“These collaborative research programs will harness the best of UK engineering innovation, and with the extra capability the NAIC gives us, you can expect the number and range of new, fresh innovative ideas that we patent, and then take to production in the future, will increase significantly,” he said.

The engineering and research facilities at the NAIC will act as a dedicated education facility for school children and engineering students to boost their skills in the area.

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